SINGAPORE – After shutting its doors temporarily since April, the Singapore outpost of meetings and events brand, HUONE is turning to new ways to keep afloat while “living to fight another day”.
HUONE provides full-service solutions for off-site business meetings and events. Since 2012, the company’s unique concept has combined meeting venue, consultative service and full catering. HUONE venues are located in Jätkäsaari and Kamppi in Helsinki, in Clarke Quay in Singapore, and in Amager Strand in Copenhagen.
In Singapore, HUONE, which means “room” in Finnish, helps with managing activity planning, F&B, team building sessions, inviting speakers for trainings, entertainment and keeping attendees engaged within its 11 themed rooms.
No one room is the same, ranging from “stacked sandboxes, and tree houses in their rooms that are actually load bearing,” said Mr Ian Wu, CEO, HUONE Singapore. Capacity ranges from 12 pax in the Igloo Room, to 120 people in the Forest Room.
While they used to accommodate up to 483 participants pre-COVID days, new laws have cut this number by half. With F&B a part of the business model, a quieter market has brought kitchen duties to a tenth of the former load as well. The brand has also had to endure two rounds of pay cuts, and retrenching half the team in May.
Nonetheless, the Finnish brand is determined to continue delivering their unique product of “a creative meeting space; layered with a strong Finnish vibes and service, good food that is prepared in-house, and being centrally located.
“Understandably it is going to take some time before we reach phase 3, but that will still be our mid to long term focus,” said Mr Wu.
In the short term, as with many other businesses, the plan is to generate sufficient liquidity to tide until phase 3 arrives.
Currently in phase 1 as Singapore slowly relaxes its Circuit Breaker laws, HUONE has shaped their kitchen towards take-away options for popular menus featuring Southeast Asian and Western cuisine, while also developing Finnish dishes into the mix.
When phase 2 is announced, the Clarke Quay venue will open its Makan restaurant and bar door to walk-ins, while still incorporating menus in phase 1. Come phase 3, meeting room sales will resume, even as phase 1 and 2 measures continue running, “therefore creating a triple source of revenue”.
Admitting that there are unique differences to running a meetings venue, as opposed to a conventional restaurant or bar, one difficulty in this unique time for instance, is in refreshing the F&B aspect.
“The menu, which previously was fine and dandy for meeting room packages, such as a 14-course buffet, does not work at all with take-aways, for numerous reasons: portioning, sauces uses, lead time to serving, packaging and more.”
In addition, the brand has also heavily revised the prices of its meeting packages - S$39 (US$28) and S$69 for a half day and full-day deal respectively.